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December 31, 1999
Relatives of hostages elated, yet.....
Tears of joy mixed with those of trepidation as the relatives of the hostages aboard the Indian Airlines plane heard about the release of their loved ones following the agreement between the hijackers and the Indian negotiators in Kandahar.
The hostages, accompanied by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh who left for Kandahar, Afghanistan, today afternoon, were expected to reach New Delhi at about 2100 hours today.
The relatives of the hostages reacted to the announcement with a sense of relief and apprehension. ''This would be the perfect new year gift for us,'' Amar Inder, the brother-in-law of Commander D Sharan, the pilot of the commandeered Airbus A 300 told UNI.
Captain Sharan's wife Navneet Sharan, however, was more cautious. ''We have been hearing so much about their release for the past eight days and then nothing happened. That was most disheartening. I will believe this only when I see my husband standing before me,'' she said.
Flight Engineer Anil Jagiya's daughter Anupama was also keeping her fingers crossed. ''We are so happy to hear about this. But we are keeping our fingers crossed that no last-minute hitches come up,'' she added. Her mother, however, refused to comment. ''I have been so scared and disturbed. I will not react till I see my daughter's husband,'' she exclaimed.
The distraught relatives of the 154 passengers and crew of the hijacked plane have been camping at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for the past week. Agitated by the apparent lack of government action in the earlier days of the hijacking, the relatives sat on a dharna outside the prime minister's house besides gate crashing into the external affairs minister's press conference and the venue of the crisis management group's meeting.
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